Friday, December 12, 2014

I can’t breathe – or can I?



Fairly early on in the Ferguson protest debacle, some wise person projected that the ultimate goal of all of these protests would be to weaken America's many police departments.  It is becoming hip to march and show support for what?  It doesn't matter at all to many of the demonstrators.  Most of the people marching now are doing it because they want to be part of something they can't even relate to.  

It reminds me of 9-11 and the massive support that our country gave our fallen and the subsequent number of yellow ribbons and flags to show support for our troops.  To everyone who truly felt a part of it, it was wonderful – until it became cliché-ish and ‘hip” to be patriotic.

A negative side-effect was that if you didn’t slap a magnetic yellow ribbon (or one the hundreds of variations including a camouflaged version) you were almost viewed as unpatriotic by some.  “Hey doofus, where’s your yellow ribbon?”

“Hey mister, it’s a free country.  Besides, I may or not support every cause that comes down the pike, but whether I do or not is none of your danged business.”

Concerning the alleged unjustified violence by police against minority groups, I am sure some of the objection is justified, but all the footage and evidence points to the “victim” resisting the police, or worse, downright fighting the cops.  I learned possibly at the tender of age of whatever, that arguing with police will always escalate into something negative for me.  In fact, I think the current movement where people are holding their hands over their heads is probably what should be done to deescalate a confrontation with police and frankly, I find it almost humorous in its simplicity.


Our city once had the reputation of being cop-heavy on citizens, but I’ve lived here since 1974 and never had one single violent experience with our police, that a few verbal exchanges didn’t solve the problem.  In one case in particular, I drove my Jeep (not my current vehicle) out of my subdivision at 0330 with a cup of coffee in my hand.  I made a complete stop at Massey Tompkins and took a right. 

Instantly there was a cop right behind me with their lights flashing.  Now mind you, it was 3:30am and the roads were devoid of traffic and this cop almost caused me to drop my uppers AND spill hot coffee in my lap.  Of course I was angry.  When he walked up to my door, I asked him why I was being pulled over.

“You failed to use your turn signal sir.”  Now I know that cop wasn’t anywhere I could see, so I asked him where he was parked and when he told me, I spitted out these words: “You mean to tell me that you followed me all the way out on Chaparral Drive with your headlights out so you give me a ticket for not using my turn signal at a dead end?”

He admitted that there had been a number of burglaries in the neighborhood and I obviously wasn’t a suspect and let me go without a ticket.  Now let me say something here.  Yes, I was angry, but when the cop came up to my door, I had turned on the dome light and had both hands in plain sight on the steering wheel.  Even though my words were strong, I didn’t curse or use threatening words and I surely didn’t act like I was going to get out and fight.

Another time I was standing on the overpass at Loop 201 and Texas Avenue taking photographs.  This was about 4 years after 9-11 and I saw a Baytown cop car fly by headed north and the officer was looking straight at me.  I thought, “Oh boy, here goes.”  At one time there was an old dairy at Airhart Drive and Texas Avenue and I was documenting the area for ourbaytown.com, but I knew that I was going to be accused of taking photos of Exxon for terrorist purposes.  Such was the state of terror phobia in our country at the time.

Sure enough, here he came and sure enough, he had his hand on his gun and demanded I give him the camera.  I told him there is “no law preventing anyone from taking a photograph from a public road” and then what I was doing and handed him my card.  He said, “This better check out!” and went back to his patrol car.  He was a younger looking officer and after a minute, he drove off without even looking at me.

Again, I did not take an offensive posture or curse the officer, I simply defused the situation without showing anger and nothing negative happened.  I actually laughed as he drove off, thinking “hasn’t he seen Google Earth?”

I have a British friend who recently wrote and said the Brits are “a bit worried over the demonstrations in America”.  I told her to forget it.  When the hipness of it wears off, the majority of people will find some other cause to get excited about.  The bottom line here is that if you do not do anything illegal or provoke a cop, 99.99% of the time, you are going to have a positive experience with the police department.  If you fall into that .01%, good luck.  You’re going to need it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sandi White: Excellent as always. Not afraid of Hot Topics.

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